Government Reform

Countdown to Disappointment: Don't expect the new Congress to cut spending


Is it too soon to declare the new Congress a failure?

Ever since their midterm election triumph, Republicans have talked tough about cutting spending. Here's hoping they make good on those promises, but they spouted the same tough talk after their 1994 election triumph and look what happened.

Back then the GOP revolutionaries targeted more than 200 programs for complete and utter elimination. They scored some minor victories (adios helium fund!), but a decade into their "revolution" (and after they gained a Republican president) inflation-adjusted spending on the combined budgets of the 101 largest programs slated for elimination actually increased by 27 percent.  And since then total federal spending has continued to soar, so why should we take Republicans seriously this time?

The countdown to disappointment starts now.

Approximately 82 seconds.

Written and produced by Ted Balaker. Music by Ambient Teknology (Magnatune Records).

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UPDATE: Ed Morrissey sez:

I have no problem with rational skepticism when it comes to political claims and eventual outcomes, but usually I'd like for a fight to get started before I declare it a failure.

He explains why this time there may be reason for more optimism (or less pessimism) and reminds us that the GOP did, at least initially, show some backbone in 1995. The government shutdown was a showdown over spending, after all.

Fair enough, but recall that spending increased more under Clinton's second term than during his first, and that many of today's biggest budget busters (Medicare Part D, Homeland Security, two wars, TARP) were Bush-started and Boehner-approved.

NEXT: A Primer on Non-Libertarianism

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  1. We commenters are often accused of being cynicaland sardonic smart-asses but “Countdown to Disappointment” is a masterpiece of the black arts.

    1. I call it just being realistic.

      1. My cynicism boils beneath a thin layer of good will for the new House. It won’t take much to crack the surface.

        1. That’s about where I am. Though I’m not sure it’s cynicism so much as it is factually justified, rational skepticism.

          This is not 1994. The economy is in a bad place, and people are truly fed up with a lot of what the government does. If these jokers realize that and really try to ride the wave of discontent by engaging in at least some hacking away at Leviathan. . .well, that’s not even a little likely, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

          1. Precisely. We don’t have the luxury of being profligate and spendthrift like we did in 1994. I just hope and pray another Oklahoma City doesn’t happen, that dug Clinton out of a big fucking hole.

            1. What if we had Oklahoma City 10000X plus 9/11 10000X? Won’t be able to dig out of those holes.

              Nothing will get better until all the wealth is extracted/wasted from the country. It’s the only way to truly start from scratch.

          2. The numbers don’t lie. I am sure they want to lie and steal like the days of old. I am just not sure reality will allow them to do it.

            1. Since when do pols let reality get in the way?

              1. Not ever.

    2. Is it too soon to declare the new Congress a failure?

      If it weren’t for disappointments, we wouldn’t have any appointments.

  2. Is it too soon to declare the new Congress a failure?

    You’re already too late to get on the ground floor of that one.

    1. I was calling the failure of the Republican wave in 112th Congress on their failure to cut spending back in late 2009.

      Wait til you hear the GOP majority in the 229th Congress vigorously defending our nationalized health care system against a “government takeover” by the Democrats.

    2. Keep on Suckin’ until you DO suck seed.

  3. The countdown to disappointment starts now.

    Approximately 82 seconds.

    Sounds about right.

  4. Expect the worst and then you are never disappointed. Although I think the Reason staff will be more disappointed if the Republicans actually do cut something.

    1. Why wouldn’t we expect the worst, John? Your team has been only slightly less of a colossal failure than the other team.

      1. They are politicians. The best you can expect is that they will do the right thing for the wrong reason. Anyone who puts their faith in politics or politicians is a fool.

      2. “This time, why not the worst?”

        Why the hell isn’t there a search-able archive of Bloom County strips on the internet? For free? Warty, get on this. For free.

        1. That would be awesome. I ripped out a Bloom County reference to some grocery store clerk that actually sniffled and fake cried when I bought duckling recently.

          …nuzzling its young with almost human-like compassion. Anyway, it’s dead and we’re gonna eat it. Please give our respects to its family.

          1. There are archives, but they are either unsearchable or have only a few strips, and are usually not direct linkable either.

            We need Steve Dallas back, and sunglasses Steve, not perm Steve.

            1. A Google search for Senator Bedfellow, farmer, and weed led me to reason’s comments section from 2009.

              Ay yi yi.

            2. Since making this up would require some form of unadulterated genius, from Bloom County’s Wiki page…

              “Steve Dallas joins the cast of Cathy, but is quickly fired.”


        2. I’ll give you the Calvin and Hobbes one, but you’re on your own for Bloom County, mister professional programmer dude.

          1. Uh, I don’t write web sites, dude. That’s for Ruby schmucks and ColdFusion morons. I write code.

            1. I barely write code anymore, I just do kinematics and read papers. I miss writing code.

              1. Kinematics sound fun, but maybe it’s not the ones in 3ds max that you’re talking about.

    2. Expect the worst and then you are never disappointed.

      Which is why I try and be thankful everyday that the world isn’t already a smoldering, lifeless, cloud-enshrouded rock. I still expect it to happen any moment now, when the ground start shaking and the horizon blossoms with innumerable fireballs.

      1. That reminds me. Libertarians:
        * Like technology.
        * Like gold.
        * Like beer.
        * Like bearing arms.
        * Have beards (mostly).
        * Are alleged to have female counterparts, though they are rarely sighted; the exceptions receive disproportionate attention as a result.
        * Hate treehugging metrosexual hippies and their stuck up attitudes, though strange friendships still happen from time to time.
        * Have scottish accents (Editor’s Note: stereotypes based on the contemporaries of Adam Smith and David Hume are outdated and no longer representative)

        We’re fucking dwarves, people. Why the fuck are people talking about seasteading* when we could be building libertopia underground in old mines and shit? Less prone to natural catastrophe, more defensible, and much less susceptible to collateral nuking.

        It was Ken Levine, wasn’t it**? Damn him.

        **Although, now that I think about it, dwarf fortresses tend to meet with horrific calamity and social breakdown on a regular basis too. Maybe Levine was onto something. But I wouldn’t be a libertarian if I didn’t think that Losing Is Fun.

        1. No beard but (see name)

        2. No beard, but I play bagpipes (really well, makes up for the lack of a Scottish accent?). And own lots of guns. And a couple shovels.

          Let’s get digging to Libertopia, boys!

          1. Start digging, and don’t stop ’til you hit Somalia!

  5. They’ve declared the previous Congress the “most productive”, meaning: fucked up this galactic quadrant worst than any previous Congress – so it is right that, as cynical hard-hearted Libertiods, we already declare this Congress as the “most disappointing.”

    1. fucked up this galactic quadrant

      Actually, I’ve been re-watching ST:VOY this past week, and I’ve seen evidence that this past congress has fucked things up even in the Delta Quadrant.

      (Was on ST:DS9 before that, but the Gamma Quadrant still looks OK.)

  6. Damn, H&R is trolling the shit out of the resident conservatives today.

    1. No Krugnutfriedtomato* articles published today is my guess.

      (Paraphrasing other, more creative, commentators. Yeah, I used the right word there, also thanks to those smarter than I.)

  7. I already popped my disappointing Dollar Value popcorn in the microwave, ready to enjoy the countdown…

  8. Video of boozing NY sanitation workers mysteriously taped over – NYP…..sCH3uRnuhK

    1. Oh darn, and our boys is usually so, uh, professional-like.

      1. I’m beginning to think that when the Reveolution finally does arrive, it will be the common man rising up to behead all of the public sector union members.

        1. For the most part, voters get to choose between giving Big Business the power to loot their pocketbooks or giving Big Labor the power to loot their pocketbooks, or some combination of both.

          It’s like choosing whether to be dropped in a tank containing a giant maneating shark or a tank filled with pirahnas. One big hungry tooth-filled maw or a thousand little ones, it all comes out about the same for you in the end.

  9. So anytime a party has tried something and failed they are automatically going to fail if they try again? Just like the dems tried to nationalize health care with Hillarycare and failed and didn’t pass Obamacare? Oh wait…
    Yes, I know congress is gifted at spending money and it’s tough to cut government programs, but what result would have been better? Election that votes in Reason staff members as senators? I think they need to run first…right now the options are dem or rep and would anyone think dems would spend less than reps given the past 2 years?

    1. what result would have been better? Election that votes in Reason staff members as senators?

      No, but some of the commentators would be nice. I’d elect RC, OM, Groovus, Thoreau, maybe a few others.

      4 People is enough for a Congress, right?

      1. Oligarchy is more practical than democracy. Just keep the oligarchs in quick rotation i.e. six-month terms and we’re good.

    2. “So anytime a party has tried something and failed they are automatically going to fail if they try again?”

      No, there’s always a hope of success the next time around if they’re trying increase the scope and power of the federal government.

  10. It’s not exactly as though Boehner has promised the moon here. He claims they’re going to cut $100 billion, obviously a paltry sum when you’re dealing with annual deficits of around $1.5 trillion. Let’s be real though, there’s no way that this hideous deficit can be completely closed overnight.

    And all you have to do to reach this figure is to go back to the FY 2008 budget! It’s so damn easy a child could do it, but needless to say, even the paltry proposed $100 billion will have the vermin screaming bloody murder every step of the way, and it’s going to be an all-out war.

    We’ll find out soon enough within the next couple of months how serious the republicans are in living up to their meager promise. If they’re not, they will fully deserve the skewering that will follow.

    1. In fact, add another $33 billion or so to that $100B and you’ll be at Gillespie’s necessary 3.6% for the next FY. It ain’t much, but I’ll take it as long as we can do it again next year.

    2. Why not go back to fy2000 spending levels and whack the hockey stick growth of the REAL drunken sailors?

      1. Sure, why not?

        Personally, I hope that the republicans shut down the government again and have the balls to KEEP it shut down this time. All damn year if that’s what it takes.

      2. Yeah, it is a good thing we don’t have those big budget deficits anymore like we did in the Bush era. I mean those half a billion dollar deficits were unbearable.

        1. Bush left a $1.3 trillion annual deficit. It took until the end of his term for the total disaster he made sank in fully.

          1. You bitch about Bush’s irresponsible spending, but defend Obama’s. You are a fucking hypocrite, shrike.

          2. Baloney! Bush only signed CRAs for F2009 so he’s not responsible for the spending after he departed in January. And it was Obama and the Dems choice to run through a huge stimulus right after Bush left. But they get a pass on that?

            Bush sucked on economics but Obama is risking meltdown of the entire West with his trillion dollar for ever deficits. But the media likes the cut of his jib (and Brooks the crease of his trousers) so it’s all good!

            1. CBO forecast $1.3 trillion in debt for fy2009 before Bush left office.


              1. Just as I predicted: shrike is lapping up the Obama spoo, as usual.

                1. Fuck you, you piece of shit.

                  The ignoramus above blamed the wrong president for the “trillion dollar for ever deficits”.

                  1. Fuck you back, you stupid cunt. You’re the one *not* blaming Bush AND Obama, therefore you are the one being disingenuous.

                    1. I sayeth unto the heathens, be not troubled, for I have given My Righteous Okey-Doke to any leader who spends as I have instructed.

                    2. My lord! Though I am unworthy to touch the hem of Your Decayed Burial Garments, still have I kept Your Sacraments!

                      If I could do Your Bidding and slay the non-believers, I would! Honest!

                    3. *fap*



                    4. No! Not again!

                    5. Quit bitching, photograph of Kim Jong IL. MY fucking pages are stuck together, no thanks to shrike.

                      Would someone please douse me with gasoline and light the fucking match?

      3. “the REAL drunken sailors”

        You mean the current administration?

    3. even the paltry proposed $100 billion will have the vermin screaming bloody murder every step of the way, and it’s going to be an all-out war

      The NYT editorialists are already whining about it. I get the sense that maybe their hearts aren’t really in it this time, though.

  11. Is it too soon to declare the new Congress a failure?


    Next question?

  12. Can I get odds in Vegas that the Repubs will extend the debt ceiling limit here in the near future?

    1. Of course the debt ceiling is going to be extended.

      The whole key is for the republicans to tie the next debt increase to the spending cuts they have promised, period, no exception. If they are smart, they’ll put the onus on Reid and Obama to decide if $100 billion is really worth shutting the entire government down over.

      1. We have been through this bullshit before, and the debt ceiling always gets raised

        1. But THIS time they’ll make comments like ‘they really get it’ and put on the brave face to tell ‘hard truths’ to the American Peoples.

          Wait. That WAS last time.

    2. But they’ll get a diet coke.

  13. Why not go back to fy2000 spending levels and whack the hockey stick growth of the REAL drunken sailors?

    I have no problem with that.

    1. Gov’t really needs a SystemRestore feature.

      1. We’ve got some malware, that’s for sure.

  14. I’m beginning to think that when the Reveolution finally does arrive, it will be the common man rising up to behead all of the public sector union members.

    I’m beginning to think that when the Revolution finally does arrive, it will be the common man rising up to not pay taxes. The powers-that-be will have to make spending cuts do some re-appropriating *then*.

  15. “Print|Email
    Countdown to Disappointment: Don’t expect the new Congress to cut spending” That is for sure.

  16. It took until the end of his term for the total disaster he made sank in fully.

    You’ve got us in the kill jar, for sure, now. NOBODY around here ever noticed. Or complained.

    SIUYA, Shriek

    1. Fuck you, Brooks. You’re just a stupid fucking Christ-fag, anyway.

      1. We resent that.

        1. Oldie but still funny:


  17. Meet the new boss – same as the old boss. The Tea Party is going to be severely disappointed. Putting in “compassionate conservatives” and neo-cons will not change a thing. Many people have the misconception that because there is an R in front of a candidates name that somehow things will change.

    Until people truly begin to understand what compassionate conservatism is, nothing will really change. Remember, it was the Bush administration that drove the car off the road. Obummer just drove it further into the field.

    1. I think Obama started smashing the car with a pick axe. But OK.

  18. Libertarians are defeatist, cynical and pessimistic, so it’s a mystery why they can’t get any political traction. The Tea Party has superseded them. Talk about embarrassing.

    1. What’s the alternative, “point”? Vote Republican? Vote Democrat?

      Fuck that.

        1. Sorry, but I have to at least vote *against* the Team Red?Team Blue shitstains, just so they know we’re not all under Their Benevolent Control.

          1. I can understand that. “-)

          2. They know we’re not all under their benevolent control when voter turnout drops below 40%.

          3. Vote “None of the Above” as a write in. He deserves a shot.

            1. Hell, I’ve written in more names than I can remember. Unfortunately, we don’t have a “NOTA” option in Missouri.

  19. The “budget busters” were Bush and Boehner approved, and the GOP paid a price for it in 2008. And the tea party’s demonstrated that they’re more than willing to support a better alternative, even if it’s someone like O’donnell. America’s primary system FTW

    I’m not under any illusion that congress will enact many of the dramatic changes championed by libertarians, such as – the destruction of the entire dept. of education, legalization of drugs and organ sales, promoting police video surveillance of citizens, privatization of multiple industry, etc etc. These are often good ideas, but they’ll hit a brick wall in the world of politics.

    I expect the new GOP wave to make some modest gains on populist libertarian agendas, like fighting union thugs, parsing Obamacare, and promoting school choice. They’re bound to disappoint, but I have realistic expectations.

  20. O’donnell? A better alternative? Oh god…

    “promoting school choice’ … is code for handing out money to religious schools.

    1. Not for everyone.

    2. Vouchers would be attaching the money to students, so they can take it wherever they want. Jesus Christ High or Atheism Academy.

  21. O’donnell? A better alternative?


    “promoting school choice’ … is code for handing out money to religious schools.

    Its code for handing out money to the schools preferred by parents. If the religious communities are the ones putting up those schools, so be it.

  22. “If the religious communities are the ones putting up those schools, so be it.”

    Oh, I see. You’re fine with tossing out the Constitution when it suits you. That’s why O’donnell is your kind of gal. Are you a young earth creationist as well? Are you all good with creationism in the schools?

    1. Wait: If any money that the government doesn’t take in taxes is money that is “given” to taxpayers, then aren’t all donations to churches a violation of the First Amendment?

      Wow, looks like I just handed you guys a winning legal strategy. You go pursue it, I’ll sit back and watch the fireworks from here.

      1. That issue is before SCOTUS right now concerning Arizona. We shall find out in June. “-)

    2. Let the money follow where the child is educated. Besides, not every child who is not subjected to gov’t indoctrination centers, winds up in a religious-based school.

      I’ll take that over tax money being wasted at public schools.

  23. I’m all for reduced expectations, it seems like Reason waited at least like a week before being disappointed in Obama’s lack of promised fiscal restraint.

    1. Hell, I started being disappointed the moment Obama won the nomination.

    2. It’s tougher when you actually voted for the person.

      1. Ron Paul in the primary, held my nose and voted for Barr in the general. Fuck if I was gonna vote for the CP or Green Party candidates.

  24. I love the high horse big “L” libertarians put themselves on. You can be a snarky as you want when you have never actually had to try to put your policies in place.

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  26. “Is it too soon to declare the new Congress a failure?” Pretty hard to imagine anyone allowing this article to run when the new Congress had not even been in session when this was written. A better question would be:
    “When did honest journalism die?”

  27. The SPICE must flow, the spice MUST flow… The spending, the printing and the Bailouting of Wall Street WILL CONTINUE until a currency crisis and imminent “wiemer” level economic collapse FORCE it to stop.
    That is why silver and gold are ratcheting upwards. Economic collapse – change your getting, hard and fast.

  28. What a bunch of conservative douchebags! Keep whining losers.

  29. holeSale Cartier glasses eyeglasses frames at a low will be

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